Canadian Musician - May/June 2017 - Page 43

“On our first tour, we didn’t bring very much gear and I think we did the whole thing in Shea [Connor, drummer]’s old ’91 Co- rolla,” Wood continues. “We were super frugal and just did what made sense.” I was very taken aback to learn that many artists and almost all non-artists thought that we were losing money touring. What I took for granted was a member of the band who had a great head for business. That value was instilled in the rest of us and we went on our merry way. It’s not very rock n’ roll, but yeah, we made budgets. We figured out how much we were going to make at gigs vs. almost exactly how much gas we would need, food we would eat, hotels we would buy, etc. That informed our spending decisions as well as the gigs we would take. As our tours progressed, we began making more money. We received grant funding, drew more people, got better at negotiat- ing, got better at cutting expenses, and got better at saving money. Touring gets easier the more you do it. “Most of our bands are now at the point where they have solid agents that get them on good tours,” says Jones. “Our tours are usually making money before they leave, just with fees. It’s grants that help subsidize expenses and allow artists to actually put some money in their pockets.” Lately, we’ve been getting good at keeping track of merch. Being smart about organizing and tracking merch will ultimately allow you to sell more of it, and selling merch can send a budget into the black surprisingly fast. HOW TO MAKE A BUDGET FOR AN INDIE TOUR There is no excuse to forgo making a budget. It takes as little as 20 minutes if it’s a basic budget and no more than two hours if you’re going into detail. You will save money if you make a budget. It’s as simple as that. Knowing where you stand financially will inform decisions about where to spend your money and will keep everything on the up and up with your band members. Budgets are essential if you are ap- plying for grants. Grants and budgets also have the unintended effect of getting you properly organized for the entire tour. “The grants force you to be on top of things,” notes Wood. “We have a folder system where we bring it on the road with us and we sort all of our receipts as we go. How closely we stick to the bud- get… well, that depends.” So how do you make a budget? It’s really not difficult, and your budget will adapt the more you tour and encounter different scenarios and expenses that will be unique to your band. Door Income/Ticket Sales: Of course, door income and ticket sales will have to be estimated. Always estimate conservative- ly. One bad night can ruin a budget, so always plan for fewer people showing up than you would expect. Step 1: Calculate Your Income I find it easiest to do this first. It forces me to organize and gather details, and you’ll be better prepared for the more complicated task of calculating expenses. When I analyze my income, I break it up into three ca